Part of following Jesus is using him as our example of how to prophesy.
Jesus of Nazareth is a lot of things. Christ/Messiah/King of Israel, and King of Kings; rabbi/teacher and wise man; savior and healer; God incarnate, and second person of the trinity; and rumor has it he’s particularly good at woodcarving. But listed among these job titles and abilities is prophet. He shares what God told him. Arguably, he never taught anything else.
Problem is, every single time I teach Jesus is a prophet—but I fail to refer to him by the usual job titles, “prophet, priest, and king,”—I get blowback. Lots of Christians feel the need to point out he’s not just a prophet. Well duh. He’s all those things I mentioned in the first paragraph. And he’s a prophet.
And the funny thing is, I don’t get this reaction when I teach Jesus is our head priest. Or Jesus is our king. Or Jesus is our teacher. It’s only when I state Jesus is a prophet. What’s up with that?
It’s about despising prophecy.
Some of it’s because they’ve met too many cranks who claim to be prophets, but they’re fake, or they’re sloppy and get it wrong. Or they’ve seen too many nutjobs on TV talking about the End Times, making wild predictions which will never happen, and making the rest of Christian biblical interpretation look foolish and stupid.
Some of it’s because there’s a large number of Christians who believe in
And to be fair, some of it’s because pagans have no problem saying Jesus is a prophet—but won’t call him Lord. So they wanna make sure I’m not going that route myself.
In the end it’s usually, “Okay, Jesus is a prophet. But he’s more than that. He’s better. Call him something better.”
Remember: Just as Jesus’s behavior is high above the behavior of any of us would-be followers; just as Jesus’s fruit is far more abundant than that of the people who claim allegiance to him; just as Jesus’s character is way more consistent than people who claim to be Christlike; so he’s a better prophet than any and every Christian prophet. Even the good ones.
“Jesus fulfilled the role of prophet.”
A variant of “Call him something better” is the popular teaching, “Jesus fulfilled the role of prophet.”
John 3.31-34 KWL
- 31 “The one who came from above is above everything.
- The one from earth is from earth. He speaks from earth.
- The one who came from heaven is above everything;
- 32 is the one who sees and hears the things he testifies about.
- Nobody accepts his testimony.
- 33 The one who accepts his testimony, confirms God is true.
- 34 For he whom God sent, speaks God’s words. He gives the Spirit without limit.”
When Jesus describes God, take him seriously. Jesus wasn’t speculating. He wasn’t guessing what the Father is like, what the Father wants, what the Father intends. He knows the Father; knows him better than every other prophet in the bible. Those folks only knew what the Holy Spirit told them. Jesus knew from personal experience. Jesus’s character and nature is precisely the same as the Father’s; it’s why he could say when you saw him, you saw the Father.
But that’s not what Christians popularly mean by “fulfillment.” They mean finished: Jesus is the last prophet. There aren’t any prophets after him. He did the job so well, so completely, it’s done. That’s how they spin Hebrews:
Hebrews 1.1-2 KWL
- 1 God, who repeatedly variously spoke through the prophets to our ancestors long ago,
- 2 spoke to us in these last days through his Son,
- whom he made heir to everything, through whom he created
To them, God used to speak through prophets in the previous dispensation. But in the present day, he doesn’t need to. Jesus spoke; his apostles wrote the New Testament, and he’s done. You wanna hear from God? You read your bible. That’s all you get.
This cessationist point of view has slipped unnoticed into a lot of mainstream Christian theology. You’ll even hear it in Pentecostal sermons. And it’s not even close to consistent with the scriptures. The whole purpose of the Holy Spirit being poured out upon Christians was to make prophets of us all.
Read Acts. The apostles functioned, in the Spirit’s power, as prophets to the pagan world they encountered. Some of ’em even held the title “prophet,” like Agabus,
Jesus is far from the last prophet. Everybody he speaks to—particularly those he speaks through—is his prophet.
Jesus being a prophet is important, people.
When Mormons try to share Jesus with me, first thing they ask is whether I believe God speaks through people. Because, they proclaim, they have good news: God speaks through their prophet!
By whom they mean the president of the Latter-day Saints. “Prophet” is one of his titles. The reason they’ve adopted this evangelistic tactic is because people do wanna hear from God. They would like to learn about God’s will, and have it explained to them. True, plenty of skeptics think prophecy is bunk, but just as many are open to the idea.
The apostles recognized this, and pointed out Jesus is this very prophet people were looking for.
Acts 3.19-23 KWL
- 19 “So repent! Turn around and get your sins wiped out,
- 20 so refreshing times can come from the Lord’s face.
- He can send his chosen Messiah, Jesus, to you all,
- 21 who has to settle for heaven till the time everything gets restored.
- So God said by the mouths of his saints in the prophetic age.
- 22 So Moses said: ‘Your Lord God will raise up a prophet for you.
- Like me, out of your family: You will listen to him, to everything he might tell you.’
- 23 Every soul, when they don’t listen to that prophet, will be erased from the people.”
The Pharisees claimed this particular prophet whom Moses spoke of wasn’t just any prophet: He was an End Times figure. He, along with the second coming of Elijah, would help usher in the End and the Messiah.
Christians recognize these two figures, the prophet and Messiah, are the same person: Jesus of Nazareth. So Jesus being a prophet isn’t a minor biblical deal. It’s a huge deal. He’s the guy we’re supposed to listen to. Not just Israel either, but all humanity.
In the gospels, people didn’t always recognize Jesus was the prophet, but they sure noticed he was a prophet.
Hence the crowds he fed leapt to that conclusion,
He identified himself as a prophet too, y’know. Jesus declared the LORD’s Spirit was upon him, same as Isaiah.
Like the Old Testament prophets, Jesus made declarations over the people of his day—blessings because of their faith,
But unlike the Old Testament prophets, he didn’t preface his statements by, “The LORD says,” but by “Amen, I promise you.” (In John he regularly threw in an extra amen.) Literally amén légo ymín/“I say amen to you,” a statement we don’t find in any other literature, either in Jesus’s day or before. It’s an oath, a promise Jesus is telling the truth, which is why the
These many “amen” statements are examples of Jesus speaking on his own authority,
So take Jesus’s prophetic ministry seriously.
If you’ve got a lot of skepticism towards today’s prophetic ministries and claims, I don’t blame you. I agree there are a lot of fools and frauds out there. But this gives us no license to dismiss Jesus’s prophetic ministries and claims. He’s our standard for how we’re to view prophecy. Not the nimrods who claim they have the anointing, and make hash of it.
Whenever Jesus makes those “amen” statements in the gospels, take ’em seriously. Because he’s serious. These aren’t wishes, ideals, things he hopes will come to pass, things he’d like to see us Christians do, things he wishes were part of his kingdom. These are promises. This stuff will happen—whether we help him get there or not. Better to be on his side than fighting him.
Whenever he makes claims about who God is, he knows what he’s talking about. Point people to God through Jesus. Describe God by the way Jesus describes God. Act in Jesus’s name.
Jesus’s statements have been confirmed, time and again, by Christians who took ’em seriously and watched ’em change our lives. Do likewise.